Friday, January 18, 2019

Is It A Rule That All Republican MDs Are Mentally Deficient As Well As Moral Abominations?

POOR RAND PAUL, REDUCED TO DEPENDING ON SLAVE LABOR MEDICINE, WHAT'S WRONG, CAN'T HE FIND THAT LEVEL OF SERVICE HERE IN THE LAND OF THE (REALITY) FREE AND HOME OF THE CRAVEN?    Rand, his daddy, Ron, Ben Carson?  Have you ever seen a more obvious collection of mental defectives who are allowed to practice medicine?

Hate Mail - Where Did You Get That Stupid Idea?

"David Bentley Hart is a right-winger."

Oh, yes. The blog-rat atheist allergy to fact checking, something they hold in common with the burning Trumpster school of political thought, is as strong as ever.

David Bentley Hart is, actually, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, you know, the same group AOC is a member of:

I have never belonged to any political party except the Democratic Socialists of America; I am a member even now. Moreover, contrary to some opinions expressed online, my membership in the DSA is not simply an act of ironic political theatre, or a sullen expression of my contrarian disposition. I am quite a contented and convinced son of the European Christian Socialist tradition; I was formed in early in life by William Morris and John Ruskin, among other worthies of that sort; and socialism is my politics in the short term. In the long term, as the eschatological horizon of my political vision, as it were, I am drawn to something like Pyotr Kropotkin’s anarcho-communism, however unrealizable it may be within history. One needs a Utopia to strive for and fall short of. I have, moreover, no interest in or sympathy for—in fact, am temperamentally averse and morally hostile to—any forms of political conservatism: neo-conservatism, palaeo-conservatism, “lost-cause” conservatism, monarcho-conservatism, theo-conservatism, or any other. The true conservatives I have known in my life have generally struck me as suffering from a somewhat bilious resentment of the simple and inevitable fact of social change, and from a jealous desire to freeze reality in an image of a past they only think they recall or understand. To me, that would be an emotionally exhausting way to live. I take Heracleitus as my guide here, and recognize that you really cannot step in the same river twice. If the present appalls you, seek things eternal, like love and justice; but let the dead bury their dead. I also dislike every form of libertarianism, which among all the expressions of the American political mind strikes me as the most incompatible with Christianity.

I realize that in America, alone among nations with developed economies, the word “socialism” has a sinister ring in many ears. I take this as a symptom of our unique national genius for stupidity. I am well aware of how badly the various parts of a “socialized” economy can at times be managed (the tales I could tell of my experiences with the NHS); but, well managed, they make for a far more humane governing philosophy than ours, and one that comes as close to something like “Distributist” justice in the use of property and wealth as we can hope for under current circumstances. So I find it very odd that, when we look at those nations of northern and western Europe that enjoy the benefits of sane socialist policies, as a result of both their Social Democratic and their Christian Democratic traditions—nations, like Germany or Denmark or France, where the cost of healthcare per capita is far lower and yet coverage is universal, where life spans are longer, where working people are not rendered bankrupt by serious illnesses, where the children of the poor cannot be denied expensive treatments by predatory insurance adjusters, where people have far more savings in bank and endure much lower levels of debt, where wages generally keep pace with inflation, where every worker has decent vacation time each year, where suicide and opioid addiction are not the default lifestyle of the working poor, where homelessness has been nearly abolished, where retirement care is humane and comprehensive, where schools are immeasurably better, where literacy is far higher…—we recoil in horror and thank God that we are free from such things. Surely, we tell ourselves, these are curses, only a few steps away from the gulags. We know that civic wealth is not meant for civic welfare, but is supposed to be diverted into the pockets of the military-industrial complex, by the needless purchase each year of hundreds of billions of dollars worth of weapons systems that will never be used, or is supposed to be squandered through unneeded tax cuts for the very richest of the investment class. We know that when the child of a working family is diagnosed with cancer, that the child should be denied the most expensive treatments, even if they alone can possibly save him or her, and then should probably die, and that his or her family should be utterly impoverished in the process. We call this, I believe, being free. And, as long as we have access to all the guns we could ever need to fight off invasions from Venus, what more can we ask?

Anyway, there it is. Excuse the interruption. Best to all—DBH.

Getting Past Augustine: Reading Scripture Is A Lot Harder Than We're Commonly Led To Believe

I have recently read the exchange between David Bentley Hart and his fellow theologian and scholar N. T. Wright over objections that Wright had about Hart's translation of the Greek New Testament which was published not long ago, that N. T. Wright had written a critique of it was, from what I understand, something of a departure from the often violated scholarly convention that you don't review a book which is in competition with one you've recently published,  N. T. Wright had published his own translation.   But that's not as interesting to me as the way that the disagreement pointed out some of the major problems within the long history of Christianity, especially the divide between the West and East of Europe, between Orthodoxy and Catholicism-Protestantism.   A lot of that seems to be due to the great influence of Augustine and his line of thought in the West and certain basic concepts some invented or popularized by Augustine, original sin, predestination, eternal damnation, etc. and the accusation that some of that is due to Augustine's inability to understand the distinctions among ideas which depend on a more subtle knowledge of Greek which, being the continued language of the early Greek Church was far clearer to them than it was to Western theologians who didn't know Greek and who depended on faulty translation starting with Jerome.  Or at least that's my understanding of the problem.

Considering such things as the damnation of unbaptized infants and the scandalous character given to God to make him conform to that Augustinian innovation by some of the major figures in Western Christianity have been of the most use to those who want to produce religious neurosis and depravity and, in the fullness of time, atheism, it's an important issue to finally get cleared up.  But that's only one of the issues that arise when you look at the understanding that an educated Greek speaking Pharisee like Paul and why he used different words which we don't understand did, actually, mean quite different and distinct things.  These issues tend to hinge on what Paul, the second and second greatest theologian in Christian history said, that is if you consider Jesus as the first and greatest of all Christian theologians, a theologian being a person who tries to make God comprehensible, in part, to human understanding.   I do have to say it is rather remarkable, as Hart pointed out, how many of the major figures in Western Christianity have turned the Good News of Jesus into the worst of all possible news and turn God into someone we have to be saved from.  I am hardly a great reader of Augustine but in almost every instance I've run up against the angry insistence on such things the angry protector of eternal damnation, the damnation of infants, predestination, is more interested in protecting the thoughts of Augustine than they are the Gospel or the Epistles. 

This article by David Bentley Hart, The Spiritual Was More Substantial Than the Material for the Ancients, was a real eye-opener to me, pointing out that it is the misunderstanding, distortion through simplification, confused changes in meaning of words that Paul and the other writers of the Second Testament when those were translated from the Greek original to Latin and other languages and how even modern translations are often made by those who are unable to understand their mistake because they are thoroughly bound up in things like the thinking of Augustine and through him Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, etc.   I am not a scholar of 1st century Greek, though I have started learning to read it, but the examples in the article become far clearer if you take the real and serious difference in meaning that Hart points out to into consideration.  I have to say that some of N. T. Wright's ideas about the nature of the life to come, the life after the Judgement, that I'd heard from his lectures didn't exactly sit well with me so maybe that colors my judgement, nor does it make sense to me considering the accounts of the risen Jesus in the Gospels or in Paul's experience, which does, actually make more sense if those distinctions in the meaning of words was part of Paul's daily use of language.

I do have to say that Hart's criticism of the common habits in imagining 1st century Judaism and, so, of earliest Christianity of that period has been something I've come to to see the more I've read about the period:

I can think of no other popular writer on the early church these days whose picture of Judaism in the Roman Hellenistic world seems better to exemplify what I regard as a dangerous triumph of theological predispositions over historical fact in biblical studies—one that occasionally so distorts the picture of the intellectual and spiritual environment of the apostolic church as effectively to create an entirely fictional early Christianity. Naturally, this also entails the simultaneous creation of an equally fictional late antique Judaism, of the sort that once dominated Protestant biblical scholarship: a fantastic “pure” Judaism situated outside cultural history, purged of every Hellenistic and Persian “alloy,” stripped of those shining hierarchies of spirits and powers and morally ambiguous angels and demi-angelic nefilim that had been incubated in the intertestamental literature, largely ignorant even of those Septuagintal books that were omitted from the Masoretic text of the Jewish bible, and precociously conformed to later rabbinic orthodoxy—and, even then, this last turns out to be a fantasy rabbinic orthodoxy, one robbed of its native genius and variety, and imperiously reduced to a kind of Protestantism without Jesus.

No such Judaism ever existed, either in the days of Christ and the apostles or in any other period; but it has enjoyed a long and vigorous life in Protestant dogmatics and biblical criticism. And I was recently reminded of this by Wright himself, when he publicly objected to a footnote in my own recent translation of the New Testament.  In that note, I mentioned more or less in passing that Paul seems to have thought that some of the narratives of the Jewish Bible not only were apt for allegorical readings, but might also have originally been written as allegories.  For Wright, this was tantamount to a suggestion that Paul did not believe in the reality of God’s covenants with Israel. Now, needless to say, nothing of the sort follows logically from my observation; more to the point, my footnote did nothing more than call attention to Paul’s own words. (And, really, how often does Paul not employ allegory in reading scripture?) But Wright’s anxiety is quite in keeping with a certain traditional Protestant picture of the pagan and Jewish worlds of late antiquity, one that involves an impermeable cultural partition between them—between, that is, the “philosophy” of the Greeks and the “pure” covenantal piety of the Jews. And, as I say, the results are sometimes comic. Unfortunately, they are at other times positively disastrous. Nowhere is this more strikingly the case—and nowhere does Wright’s work in particular present a more troubling specimen of pious exegetical violence to scripture—than in regard to the New Testament’s use of the words πνεῦμα (spirit), ψυχή (soul), and σάρξ (flesh), as well as to the theologies of resurrection that attach to them.

Which, if nothing else, points out how dangerous it is for understanding to read the Scriptures naively, as if you could reach any deep understanding of them without understanding such issues.  The Bible, even the New Testament can't be read as a modern History book or science, which hadn't been invented and, so, they weren't written to be used like that.  Nor can it be read as an introductory textbook or a novel which doesn't require you to have previous knowledge of the kinds of things that Hart talks about.  And even knowing that isn't enough.   It's not that a scholar like N. T. Wright could be accused of being unprepared to read the books more on their own terms, Hart's accusation that he reads the books of the Bible, shaping his understanding of them on later theology instead of on what the authors said is the way that all of us read it to some extent, it's the way we read everything.   It takes an enormous effort to strip away things like the through saturation of Western culture in Augustine's thinking, to understand that he, also, read the Scriptures from his own experience, to make distinctions and come to understandings at odds with those.

I agree with Hart that Gregory of Nyssa had a far deeper understanding of the Scriptures than later, especially Latin speaking and writing theologians did.  His conclusions are certainly far more consonant with the definition of God as the ultimate source of love in the universe than Augustine's or Aquinas or Calvin or Luther or, I'll have to say, Karl Rahner, though I think Rahner's  readings are more due to his saturation in modern, contemporary German philosophy than Augustine.  I'm not sure I think those are all that much of an improvement.  With the great advance in rigorous modern scholarship comes the problem of modernism, though they can be divorced.  Modernism, itself, can become a polluting hermenutic.

That's not to say that in many instances those theologians are worthless, it means that they have to be read with the same care and understanding of where they're coming from and where they wanted to go to.   I think Augustine turned sour when he saw the Roman Empire falling in the West and he was way too involved with politics.  And speaking of which . . .

Reading more Orthodox thinking it is striking to me how different it is in so many ways from the Western thinking I grew up in.  That's not to say that it's perfect, as one Orthodox thinker I listened to recently pointed out that Orthodoxy has a huge problem of being, so often, bound up in nationalism and the politics of the countries they are tied to.  In that, I think that, to some extent, Catholicism and many of the Protestant churches have left much of that behind, in many cases. 

For more examples of such differences, here's a recent lecture and Q&A "Is Everyone Saved? Universalism and the Nature of Persons."

I'll point out that the quote I used about Pope Francis the other day comes at about 58:00

I can say that this all points out that the slam that Protestants made against Catholics, that they were against non-specialists reading the Bible being both right and wrong.  If the motives of keeping the Bible locked away from the common people by authorizing only the  Latin Vulgate were bad, they did, at least, protect Catholics from coming to The Bible totally unprepared with the myriad of problems that can lead to.  If it's going to be read, and it should be, it should be read for an actual understanding of the language and minds of those who composed it, the extent to which that can be had.  I hope we call all, eventually, get past Augustine.  My rule of thumb is that anything  inconsistent with God being good, of God's love, with God holding out against even the most intransigent of stubborn humans of God being as depraved as the worst of predestination and those eager to send people to eternal torment is suspect to the highest degree.  I don't believe any of it.

No, It's Not Dementia Or A Social Disease Or A Loss Of Confidence

I suppose I should come out and say that I've been ill and apparently it's more serious than I'd thought.  While the doctor tells me that the condition I've got isn't often fatal, it's serious.  I should be able to write posts, just not at the volume I have been until it passes or I do.  Not to get anyone's hopes up, just to explain the sudden fall in verbiage.  Maybe I'll fill in with posted lectures and music. There are lots of those that should be heard.  

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Hate Mail

Well, Yogi Berra also said, "You can observe a lot by watching."  I'll continue with the thought and say you could read a lot by reading.  Try it, you'll be surprised at how useful it can be, I say that because it's obvious you've never done it before.  You're deja pues, all over again. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Nino Rota - Carla Bley - 8 1/2

Nino Rota's movie music is memorable, but, then, the movies he wrote it for were better, too.

Last Update on this topic:
You can judge who musicians figure is the better composer by comparing the number of recordings available for their works.  Here's the listing at Arkivmusic  for Nino Rota, note how many of them are for concert music, as well as his film scores.  Here's the one for Bernard Herrmann, almost all of it for his movie music. 

More of More

Rule #2, or close to it is that people who comment on theology when they've never read any are as pig ignorant as people who comment on anything else they've never read.  Only when it's theology it's the common received unwisdom that that's OK.  Stuck up idiocy is rampant among the college credentialed.  Of course, they're pretty much faking most of what they pretend to know, anyway. Being educated ain't what it used to be.  Even Trump's got a degree from an Ivy, for Pete's sake.  Jared has one from Hahvahd. 

But What About Phineas Gage?

It should be Rule #1 or close to 1 that any academic or college credentialed person who cites "the case of Phineas Gage" to make claims about the mind or the brain or free will has proven themselves to be a gullible idiot.  "The case of Phineas Gage" is based on 19th century bullshit science, much of it coming from, and I kid you not, a phrenologist.  His actual, known biography, his work record, his record of holding down difficult jobs in a number of different situations before the brain trauma he suffered caught up with him in California doesn't support the bullshit "neuroscience" claims about him which are all, every one I've ever seen, ideological, not scientific. 

I've written about that at length, you can read the basis of my thinking from just this one time I did. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Carol Channing Once Said She Wanted This On Her Tombstone So Here It Is

She Lifted Peoples Lives 

I loved Carol Channing, a great performer an endlessly entertaining raconteur and a humanitarian.   Hope she's where she belongs. 

Girolamo Frescobaldi - Cento partite sopra Passacagli

This is one of the most remarkable pieces of instrumental music written in the 17th century, an early example of the keyboard passacaglia which would be taken up and modified to have less fantastic variety by the Couperins and J.S. Bach and others who came after. The interspersing of long and fantastic variations that clearly follow the passacaglia form with, first what is recogizable as a courante (corrente) and then with contrasting cicconas and sections in contrasting tonality is pretty remarkable and presents a performer with all kinds of interpretive problems of how fast to play the contrasting sections.  I wonder if it is a written out attempt at reproducing the original passacaglia which was improvised by a musician - probably a guitar player - on the streets.   Needless to say, the performances of it available on Youtube are hardly uniform in how they approach these.  I'll give you two.

Yoanne Moulin, virginal

Harpsichord player is unidentified.

There are other performances at Youtube.

The score can be found beginning on page 77 here.

Randon Thoughts On RUR and People As RAM

One of my young relatives asked me the other week if I'd ever read Karel Čapek's play, R.U.R. the play he invented the word "robot" for, something which someone said was the only memorable thing about the play.   I had read it a long time ago, in Esperanto, as it was.  A fact I mention only to push a button.  I found it online in English translation and read it again and was struck with not only how dumb the play was in terms of plot such as the way that Helena Glory ends up getting, I don't know, coerced into marriage, in the first act is downright bizarre. It's something the @metoo would have a field day with, but I don't think it really represents the author's thinking on women.   I think it's unfortunate that it's what most people seem to think of when they think of Čapek's work because I think his stories are better.  Since reading the play in English I went back to read a bit of his journalistic writing and it's a lot better than his fiction, if what I read is representative, that's what he should be remembered for.  But I'll get to that in a later post.

The biggest thing that struck me about R.U.R. was that the expected reaction of the humanitarian stereotype in the play, Helen Glory, to consider the masses of humanoid robots as oppressed workers, imagining them to have human personalities and minds and rights isn't what I see in real life.  What I see is not that it is people, especially those of some credentials and, allegedly, sophistication, making people metaphors for machines and imagining human beings in the limited terms appropriate for machines. 

When I first thought about this I immediately thought of the exception of the reaction of even scientists and others with educational credentials who took Joseph Weizenbaum's pretty obviously brainless bot ELIZA as having the ability to give psychotherapy to human beings, something that, at first, seems to be something like Helen Glory's silly attribution of qualities of human beings, of human minds and personalities and souls to machines.  But it was the opposite that was being demonstrated, even by the very psychiatrists, psychologists whose perceived role in life they imagined a 1964 era computer program could perform with good results.  They had already, before the first convincing human-like robot was possible, demoted human beings to mindless machines.  I wrote about that in 2013.

If anything, people are far more impressed with the far more powerful computers and sophisticated programs and far, far less impressed with people, even in their own minds.   The extent to which that is due to their casual experience with using computers and what influence that has had on the language people use to talk about our minds, I don't know.  I do know that what was commonly believed by people during that time, that people were really thinking, freely choosing, living beings seems to have given way to exactly the mechanical view that Weizenbaum warned about.    As he was surprised to find, it was among scientists who he, and earlier, Polanyi, believed should have known better that the mechanical view of humanity was already more common.   That it was, apparently, acceptable among psychotherapists and psychologists should tell us that there was something seriously wrong with the scientific identity of those academic fields.  I would say that the subsequent decades, as Behaviorism was succeeded by evolutionary psychology, the beliefs, assumptions and attitudes on display, have almost entirely dominated those and other "sciences" dealing with our minds.

You have to get people pretty young or pretty naive to get them to do the opposite, to imagine a really human like mind into a machine, but what these scientists and science-trained people do is really no different*.  The very idea that machines can achieve intelligence is based on the materialist assumption that minds are material entities that could be reproduced like robots.  As soon as you realize that it is not possible for minds to be material, you can see how absurd it is to think that any machine could have a mind. 

But our universities are staffed by such idiots, not only in the sciences but, also, perhaps even more so, the sadly demoted wreck of what used to be called "the humanities".  Perhaps that's what happens when you try to make man the measure of all things, you figure man can get the measure of ourselves and square us all away into a series of equations.  Or, at least, that's what you imagine if you didn't have the math and physics classes that apparently don't get the job done, either.

I started this thinking about following up a link at RMJ's blog, through Raw Story to a bit of academic atheist bullshit by one John G. Messerly to an earlier article he wrote for the often stupid Salon promoting the idiot fantasy of millionaire and billionaire geeks, "transhumanism" as a means of gaining immortality.  The idea is pretty daffy in details but it is also daffy in that it insists that we know that human minds are material and, as such, capable of being turned into bits and bytes of computer code and, so, we can all be downloaded to some kind of storage system to be eternally resurrected by reading devices and RAM or whatever.  It's an incredibly stupid idea but the kind of idea that comes with science geekery these days.  I might get around to dissecting the article but this is already getting long.


Only here's one point on  from the article which showed how stupid the guys who think like that are, a quote from the great thinkers of transhumanism with a list of Great Thinkers:

The conduct of life and the wisdom of the heart are based upon time; in the last quartets of Beethoven, the last words and works of "old men" like Sophocles and Russell and Shaw, we see glimpses of a maturity and substance, an experience and understanding, a grace and a humanity, that isn’t present in children or in teenagers. They attained it because they lived long; because they had time to experience and develop and reflect; time that we might all have. Imagine such individuals -- a Benjamin Franklin, a Lincoln, a Newton, a Shakespeare, a Goethe, an Einstein  -- enriching our world not for a few decades but for centuries. Imagine a world made of such individuals. It would truly be what Arthur C. Clarke called "Childhood’s End" -- the beginning of the adulthood of humanity.

Having, unlike whatever idiot who said that, read the late product of several of those thinkers, the ones who, unlike Beethoven**, lived to actually get very old, it's a mixed bag.  Russell and Shaw decayed as they aged, Shaw, in particular was on the cusp of Nazism in the 1930s if he hadn't, like so many heroes of sciency modernism, already crossed that line. The product of his last years was shit.  His prefaces and speeches from that period make this weeks infamy, Steve King, sound pretty watered down.  I've heard Russell in debate, I believe in the late 1940s or the 1950s, it was cleverness and resting on his reputation, not impressive, much of it striking me as uninformed. I don't think you can make the case that Newton's best work was from his later years or Einstein's (physicists like mathematicians hardly ever produce great work in their old age, something Russell commented on). 

Sophocles reportedly had to write Oedipus at Colonus to keep his kids from getting the courts to declare him incompetent so they could take over his financial affairs.  Since the central theme of the play depends on Oedipus dying, the gods having decided that his grave will be lucky for the place it is located in, to use his only late work to have come down to us for such an argument for "eternal life"*** is rather clueless.  And, for Pete's sake , Arthur C. Clarke?  They're resting on the wisdom of that two-bit dime-store, pulp magazine mystic?  This is a laundry list of middle-brow, unread icons, not anything anyone should base any kind of serious argument in.  I'll bet none of those who subscribed to it ever read much of anything any of them wrote.  And that's not getting into the common received credulity about the one on that list who is just about certainly a pseudonym. 

Ain't sciency modernistic modernism great or what?

*  I remember, now, the story about the attempt to ban robot brothels in some Texas city from late last year and think it, also, is not really an exception to the rule.  Men who would have sex with an animated human doll are merely demonstrating that they demote women into objects, probably why they have to resort to having sex with robots in a business that caters to men like them.  The angry proud-boys of "incel" are like that too, only they're too lazy and stupid to get up from their screens to go out.  That is until one of them gets a gun and kills women, demonstrating the same dehumanization of women that their more active co-jerks who get out more do.

**  Beethoven was 56 when he died, his last quartet was from the year before then. Using Beethoven in such a list is rather stupid.

***  I always wonder what they figure is going to happen to their cyberminds as the atoms and molecules and, eventually, the protons decay. 

Monday, January 14, 2019

On Tulsi Gabbard

I'm asked what I think of Tulsi Gabbard annoucning that she, at the age of 37 is announcing a presidential run, 15 years after she made vicious anti-LGBT speeches.  

First, she might overcome that with 20 years of hard work, in office favoring equality, not just for LGBT people but for everyone.

Second, she's too young, 57 is a credible age for a presidential candidate, one with decades of experience in office and with a long track record of service in political office.  Announcing at 37 is a publicity stunt, not a candidacy.  See what I said about Sanders, Keyes and Cain below. 

I don't have any problem with people seeing the light and leaving the hate behind, I believe in redemption and growth.  But when it comes to voting for a president, I've got to see it for a long time.   I've also heard things about her dissing Mazie Hirono.  You don't diss Mazie Hirono and expect to get my vote. 

Nope That Won't Rope Me Into It

Nope, I already said my last word about that crap. 

Bernie Sanders Running Can Only Defeat His Agenda He's Smart Enough To Know That His Staff And Cult Aren't

I agree with most of what Will Bunch says today about a 2020 Bernie Sanders presidential run doing more harm to his legacy and, with entirely more importance, the lives of millions of people who could benefit from what he can do and has done.  Bernie Sanders can, still, as a Senator start the formation of legislation that, when the Republican-fascists don't control the government, could quickly win approval and be made law*. 

Bernie Sanders may have loved being a cult figure, I think he obviously enjoyed it as much as any politician who becomes one tends to.  His current cult of devoted followers aren't the brightest pebbles on the left shore of American politics, they are the devotees of the unrealistic and impossible and never will be.  He will never be president of the United States, his run in 2016 was damaging to the one and only candidate who had a chance to keep Trump from office.   The role that his right-hand-man Jeff Weaver and, frankly, his far from above-board wife and others high up and in the mid ranks of his campaign staff played in driving down the Democratic vote in November should never be forgotten**.  Apparently many of those people are involved in the push for him to run again in 2020, no doubt they'll still crank up the whiney sirens of crank conspiracy when Bernie Sanders fails to win the nomination again, LEST IT BE FORGOTTEN, FAILING TO WIN THE NOMINATION OF A PARTY HE IS NOT A MEMBER OF.

It is beyond outrageous that Bernie Sanders is even talking about AGAIN running for the nomination of a party he didn't belong to until well after he decided to run for its nomination AND WHICH HE QUIT AS SOON AS THE ELECTION WAS OVER.   The Democratic Party must adopt rules to prevent even well-meaning carpetbaggers and attempted hijackers like Sanders from being eligible for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States.  It should adopt rules that prevent non-Democrats from running the kind of destructive, counter-productive campaigns that his was in 2016.   It should, as well, learn from the disaster of having a cult figure whose cult can get turnouts for the always low-turnout caucuses BY ABOLISHING CAUCUSES!   Caucuses are an anti-democratic abomination that should have ended in the 19th century with the invention of the telegraph and rail road travel.  There is no good excuse to put the choice of any state's delegates in the hands of a small number of people when it is always the case that a primary will have far higher participation than caucuses.

I will be campaigning for the Democratic Party to take total control of its nominations processes by adopting such rules WITH AN EYE TO GETTING THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF VOTERS PARTICIPATING IN THE CHOICE.  A national primary done entirely by the Democratic Party with the participants being only real, declared members of the Democratic Party, by secure mail-in ballots would seem to be the best choice for having that choice be made by the largest number of people.   Either the Democratic Party reforms itself in the most democratic way possible, or it should change its name.  The idiots who have allowed the disgusting, disgraceful caucus ridden mish-mash that has had such bad results for us to go on this long proves they are incompetent to come up with anything that will fix it, too many of them have ulterior motives, often on behalf of some faction or other.  I've been on enough boards and committees to know how that works.  We should learn from the experience of states which conduct their elections by mail in designing that system, NOT ON THE MACHINATIONS OF SELF-INTERESTED IDIOTS ON SUB COMMITTEES.  We should entirely ignore what the pundit class says, they're mostly such idiots, themselves.

*  It is going to be necessary for Democrats to refuse to abide by Republican-fascist Supreme Court nullification of duly adopted laws, whether by radically altering the makeup of the court - which I think is a good idea, and/or by refusing to abide by court rulings that have less than unanimous agreement by the justices that the laws violate the Constitution.  As my wise friend RMJ pointed out, the Supreme Court has radically altered the Constitution by 5- 4 rulings that the large majority of the people in the country would have to do through the arduous, cumbersome process of amendment.  It is sheerest idiocy to allow five political hacks or 6 or even 8 to exercise that kind of power.  And no one should be under any illusion that the present court, where most of the members are chosen by the Federalist-fascists and the American Enterprise Institute are anything more than ideological hacks who were put on the court to do the bidding of the billionaires that finance those engines of dainty, clean language, clean finger-nailed fascism.  With Kavanaugh they've pretty well broken open the door to his kind of vulgar fascism on the court, we don't need to pretend they're anything more than they have been since the thugish voter-intimidator Rehnquist was put on it.

**  I think a lot of them, including those named, have too much of a financial interest in Sanders running again.  It would be sad to see him end his days as the Herman Cain or Alan Keyes of Democratic Socialism.  Him running in 2020 would put him in that category, only Cain and Keyes didn't do it while they weren't Republicans and who didn't hurt the Republican Party.

The Genealogy of American Fascist Evil

As I'm typing this NPR's Morning Edition has Newt Gingrinch on lying his fat face off about the Trump - McConnell shutdown and the one he caused during the Clinton administration.   Why they talk to Republican-fascists who they know are liars, who they know will lie on them and deceive their listeners is a good example of one of the worst aspects of the practice of journalism in the United States.  Especially the broadcast and cabloid media.

They don't seem to be about to correct what he said by talking to the reporters who he whined to about the slights and snubs he said were the reason for his self-destructive shut-down, so, in reality, when the media has on known liars, they are the vehicle through which they peddle their lies.

Democracy in the United States is being destroyed by lies.  Putin's entire campaign was based on targeting the peddling of lies to those deemed by social, computer and other scientists to be the most vulnerable to believing those lies.  What he was doing, what those rightly alarmed by it is something that the American media does every day, on behalf of their owners, their sponsors, other members of the super-rich elites, on behalf of their own careers which they know will not be harmed by carrying dirty water for them.   Now, as can be heard on NPR this morning as David Greene lobs soft-ball challenges to Newt Gingrich and they don't have on those who could correct his lying, they're carrying such filth when they know it is in support of Putin's puppet in the White House.

The American free press, the media are the problem, they are the messengers of lies, the corruption of our politics might not start there but they are close to the start.   Where it starts is with the Supreme Court giving them permission to lie with impunity.   There is a reason that things have steadily gotten worse, with a stream of terrible presidencies and Republican-fascist congresses in the period after 1964, the date of the first of those criminally irresponsible rulings made on behalf of the New York Times.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Saturday Night Radio Drama - Denise Mina- The Dead Hour

The Dead Hour by Denise Mina and adapted by Chris Dolan was broadcast on 9th October 2009.

Glasgow, 1984 - Cub reporter "Paddy" Meehan follows the police to a domestic dispute in which a female lawyer has been beaten up. 
Her partner at the house slips £50 into Paddy's hand and shuts the door. 
Next day the lawyer is found murdered.

Paddy: Amy Manson
Billy: Stevie Hannan
Neilson: Simon Donaldson
Trisha: Cara Kelly
Gourlay: Laurie Ventry
Sean: Paul Thomas Hickey
JT: Finlay McLean
Kate: Patricia Kavanagh
Sullivan: Andrew Clark
Burns: Grant O'Rourke
Ramage: Mark McDonnell

Director: Bruce Young

Another adaptation, but a superior one.  It's based on a novel which I haven't read but it's well done on its own terms.

I've got lingering symptoms of what's going around.  Low energy for a while I'd guess.

Friday, January 11, 2019

William Bolcom - 3 Dance Portraits: No. 1, The Dead Moth Tango

Ursula Oppens, piano

I posted a different recording of these a few years back, it's good to hear another performance from such a fine artist.

No. 2, Knock-Stück

No. 3, Abbacadabra

I'm Officially Over Bernie Sanders And His Possee Of Grifters

OK, I know it's the AP but with this:

Sanders’ loyalists expect him to launch a second campaign in the coming weeks, and his network of die-hard supporters is hosting hundreds of events across the nation this weekend encouraging him to run.

I am officially over Bernie Sanders, I've even removed his name from the sidebar of my blog as someone I respect.

Bernie Sanders joined the Democratic Party, briefly, so he could run for the Democratic nomination for President in 2016, then he left the party.  A second nomination fight for the nomination of a party he is not a member of makes him a troll and a carpetbagger.  If he had remained in the Democratic Party after his last run, I wouldn't make that accusation but now he's a troll and carpetbagger using the Democratic Party for a stunt run out of ego and the desire for him and his money-making staff and his cult of adoring cultists to further their own ends.  I would argue that he is too old to be a credible candidate, I would make the same case against Joe Biden. 

What, after the disaster of Trump being put in the office with the help of his fans, Bernie imagines  he's going to get out of it except more attention for himself, at his age, I couldn't possibly guess.  Maybe my ego isn't big enough to get it.  I suspect there are those around him who expect to make money out of, what this time would be merely a stunt run, ginning up the same anger that his last run did to no good purpose.



Hate Mail

"I know quite a lot of traditionalist Catholics who hate the current Pope [Francis] largely because of his perverse desire to be a Christian."

David Bentley Hart 

Don't count my comment about what I think will happen if Pope Francis fails to open up the Catholic priesthood to people who are married as opposing him.  I think he's still got the potential to be one of the best of the modern Popes.  The abysmal quality of his opponents (Vignano, Burke, etc.*), many of whom are among those most responsible for dragging the Catholic church into its present crisis, are an indication of his potential greatness.  His pastoral letters are some of the best I've read. 

* See: BALTIMORE — The most important takeaway from the U.S. bishops' plenary meeting this week in Baltimore is that they as a group remain determined to resist the pastoral impulse and approach to which Pope Francis is calling the church. Just as it took Pope John Paul II years to take the conference in a more conservative direction, it will take the bishops who champion Francis a few more years before they have the votes to take the conference in a new direction.

This was seen most obviously in their precedent-breaking decision to select Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, as chair of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities over Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich. At the coffee break after the vote, one bishop said, "This was like electing Donald Trump. Naumann will say things that will embarrass all of us."

Yet, the bishops voted for him, not Cupich, knowing they would be sending a clear message to Francis.

And, also. 

Too many were selected as bishops because they have been promoted by a powerful patron. For example, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo became a cardinal because he had Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re as his patron, as did Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò. Such patronage explains why DiNardo, whose incompetence in his dealings with Rome have been recently revealed, became a cardinal. The large number of mediocre bishops produced by the Re and Sodano networks will stalk the church for years.

Hearing Trump Whining About The House Freshmen Class Made Me Think Paul Lynde Sang It Better

I didn't remember how much of it fit Trump, the bottle blonde daughter, telling his son he didn't value him.  Uncanny.